Paul Allen, a cofounder of Microsoft, bought the former home of painter Georgia O’Keeffe in 2000 for a little over $12 million. After his death in 2018, the Paul Allen estate began preparing to sell off his possessions, with an auction of works from his art breaking records and raking in $1.5 billion. Almost all of that money was disbursed to charities.
Allen’s former home in Santa Fe, an adobe house that O’Keeffe named Sol y Sombra (Sun and Shadow) and lived in until her death at age 98, has been up for sale since 2021. The house, on a 20-acre plot of land, hasn’t sold, and so the estate cut back its original price of $22.6 million to $15 million.
Sol y Sombra, despite its impressive pedigree, lacks some of the charm of O’Keeffe’s studio-home in Taos, Abiquiú, which is part of the O’Keeffe Museum in New Mexico. Abiquiú preserved O’Keeffe’s sense of style, her mid-century modern furniture, and her spartan lifestyle. Sol y Sombra has adobe walls and exposed wood beams, and has been retrofitted with large photographs of canyons, conference tables with office chairs, and wall-to-wall carpeting in some of the bedrooms.
The home comes complete with an odd addition: a very special tree. It is said that Buddha gained enlightenment by sitting under a Bodhi tree, and in 1991, the Dalai Lama gifted Paul Allen with a seed that supposedly comes from that same tree. From the plaque in the house, it seems that this was a response to a letter Allen sent to the Dalai Lama requesting one of these seeds. In any case, the seed has grown into a fine, young Bodhi tree. The buyer of the house will get to own it now, too, along with Allen’s cacti collection.